We had a good class today. Kathy set up a course with 18 stations.
Before we walked the course, Kathy had us do a couple of exercises - to demonstrate a point. First we had our dogs figure-8 leg weave, from each side. Then we did a figure-8 leg weave twice, from each side. It took a minute to get Gimme into working mode (we couldn't do our usual walk of the perimeter for her attention warm-up because I was late & others were using the space). Once I had her attention, she did really well.
After this warm-up with figure-8 leg weaves, she had us do another exercise to demonstrate how our dogs might respond. We were to walk up to a line, do two figure-8 weaves, then proceed to the next line and do "one weave". I misunderstood what she meant by this and so had Gimme do one figure-8 leg weave. What she really meant was for us to do a thru-transition at the second line.
The point was to demonstrate how the dogs might assume it was a figure-8 if we use the same footwork. However if we step forward with the thru leg, rather than to the side, then the dog knows its a different behavior.
The dog will readily pick up the difference between a thru transition and walking leg weaves because the walking cadence is different. Also by the time the dog might be about to turn into you for another leg weave, the near leg (in this case right) would already be coming forward and thus no space would form for them to go through.
After we finished these exercises, we each got to work through the course. Overall Gimme did really well - naturally I thought she did better than the other dogs. My classmates sweetly (and accurately - just ask me) commented about how flashy and pretty Gimme looks when she is doing the moves well. We did have a bit of a problem when we approached the end of the room the second time, because this was the perimeter we didn't get to walk as we entered the building. The chance to walk the perimeter is very important to Gimme. Still we worked through it on the spot by increasing the rate of reinforcement for sticking with me and not sucking to the distraction.
The last exercise was to work J'Anna's dog on the next steps of crossing his paws. We were supposed to work on each of our tricks, but ran out of time. Still, it was helpful to me because I was able to bring to it a couple of questions which relate to how Gimme and I are doing with "cane" and "orbit".
Specifically, I asked questions about how Kathy teaches behaviors which are done in two different directions. I already know Kathy puts them on two different cues - such as "cane" and "orbit". I asked her if she separated the training of them and if so, how. She does separate them, and said she teaches one through to verbal cue. Then she waits at least several weeks before starting to teach the opposite. In the waiting time she doesn't practice the first one either.
Since the last time we trained, Gimme and I did "cane", we continued and trained it again this evening. Gimme is having difficulty giving up offering the behavior (you know how she always wants to be the one driving the train). So once I had her solidly warmed up, then I switched gears and started alternating "cane" with "heel". I chose "heel", since if she is heeling, then she can't be offering "cane". I found I really needed to raise the rate of reinforcement so she could resist the urge to offer. She was doing well at the end.
Now in a little bit, I'm going to start training her to cross her paws. Kathy gave us a lot of details about the progression and given how much Gimme loves to use her paws, this should be a fun exercise to work on, while I come up with another prop support for "can". I found the wood sticking out from under the can made Gimme think she was supposed to keep her front feet on the wood disc while having her back feet on the can. Unfortunately this puts her body at a steep angle, so she's unlikely to do the sideways steps I need for the pivot. Besides I think its unnecessarily stressful for her shoulders.
So I need cue help for the paw crossing. I'll probably use "cross" for one direction. I'd appreciate any suggestions you might have for its opposite.